Reading: Romans 1:22-23
What idolatry looks like
UCLA basketball coach John Wooden warned his players about the danger and foolishness of conceit. Both Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton heard his warnings: "Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
In our reading today, Paul describes what happened when man was not careful to be humble. Self-professed wisdom is really foolishness because God is the only source of wisdom, not self. It leads to foolish behavior because even the most conceited heart needs something greater than itself to fill it. So the self-professed "wise" person looks to satisfy his needs in things apart from God (Jeremiah 2:13). Isaiah 44:9-20 provides a graphic depiction: a man fashions an idol from the same wood with which he heats his home and cooks his food-and then he bows down and worships the idol that he made with his own hands and calls it his god.
This, we may think, is an ancient issue-not a problem for the 21st century believer. There is no temptation to melt our Silpada jewelry in the saucepan and form a golden calf to worship. However we may have our own form of modern idols. Could we, like Wooden's players, be tempted to worship our own success? What do our calendars tell us about how we choose to spend the bulk of our time? What do our checkbook ledgers say about where we spend our money? What do we worship?